Building Brand Identity Through Graphic Design

With modern technology, there are hundreds of ways for a business to reach a target market. The power of online media channels such as Twitter, Facebook or even email, continue to grow at a rapid rate. But before a business can begin thinking about mass marketing themselves through the web, a businesses identity needs to be created. A company identity is the foundation upon which all future marketing is established. Graphic design entails creating a visual representation of what a business is about–its core beliefs, mission, the way they do business–and it highlights the company’s top attributes. Graphic design is a form of visual communication that allows a business to illustrate a complicated process, persuade a buyer, sell a product, or clearly represent an idea through an image or design. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words and a powerful graphic design can visually represent or convey emotion, stimulate a viewer, represent quality, and visually encompass a business’ principles within a split second.


People rarely give a second thought to graphic design. But if you take a minute to look around your house or the community that you live in, you can quickly see that graphic designs surround our daily lives. From designs as large as a billboard on the side of the highway to the postage stamp in the corner of an envelope, graphic designers are trying to visually convey messages to consumers. The importance of graphic design in commerce can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. Why does a child gravitate toward a specific cereal box over any other at the grocery store? Why are the logos of some businesses so recognizable, memorable, and seem to fit the business perfectly? The importance of quality graphic design is often overlooked but if you take a moment to think about it, it becomes clear that it’s an essential ingredient for establishing a presence in any marketplace.

To begin, let’s look at the various types of graphic design. For the most part, graphic designs can fall into three categories: designs based on image, designs based on type and those based on a combination of image and type. Designs within each of these categories can be very powerful and a good designer can determine which method best portrays the client’s message.

Designs Based On An Image

With an image-based design, the image carries the majority of the message with very little to no text. It can be built on a photograph, graphically rendered or even painted or sketched.  A single image is responsible for generating thoughts, emotions and portraying an idea. This kind of design assumes that the audience already has visual knowledge that will trigger the appropriate response when viewed.

Schepens Eye Research Institute Glaucoma Ad

As an example, a lemon has a powerfully strong sour taste and pungent smell that can create salivation and pursed lips. Viewing an image of a lemon can trigger the memory of these sensations and an image of a lemon, in the right environment and in the right context, can make a powerful statement that is both visually and physically understood.

Designs Based On Type

Typography can be just as powerful as an image. Oftentimes, a business logo or an advertisement may consist of just type and be void of any image or symbol. The design and color of a font can convey a message that is just as powerful as the meaning of the words themselves. Each sports team, automobile, product, or movie has a unique and recognizable font face, color, and kerning. There is more for a designer to think about than typeface alone. The copy of an advertisement can be treated like a painter approaches a blank canvas. Text attributes (bold, italics, capital letters, size, kerning, indents, underline, spacing, color, drop-shadow, etc…) allow a designer to mold the text into a visual statement that can take a design far beyond the face value of the contextual connotation.

A great example of using only text to create a powerful logo is the rock band “U2”. Two simple characters, juxtaposed in just the right way, have become one of the most recognizable contextual logos in the music industry. In the corporate world it is very common to see companies create their brand identity and logo with text alone. A logo based solely on text is often referred to as a logotype. Two of the most recognizable logotypes today are Facebook® and FedEx®. Facebook may be one of the most identifiable logos on the earth even though it was designed using only a single font face and color.

Designs Based On Image and Type

Sometimes, a creative composition consisting of type and images can better communicate a message to a target audience. It is more common to have text and images present in graphic design as most forms of print advertisement require both contextual and visual branding. Sometimes, a product or service requires far more than an image to explain its unique selling proposition (USP). And, every now and then, a consumer just needs a clear and concise statement describing what a product or service is and how it can benefit them. A designer can create images and logos that can boost the value of the textual content in an ad or the text can help solidify the meaning and power of an image.

Moo's Place Ad

Careful thought and attention to detail are required by the designer in order to connect the client’s message to the consumer through a graphic design or advertisement. To the eye of the average consumer, minor details may go unnoticed but to the trained eye of a graphic designer, a single pixel can make a huge difference. Just look at the recent Google® logo change where the design team adjusted the “g” by moving it a single pixel to the left and the “l” a single pixel down and one more to the left. Before and after images show the slightest change in design but one that corrects alignment for easier online reading. This change was overlooked by the general public but was picked up on by several design companies across America. Attention to detail matters in design.


Design is often a continual process as consumer expectations and demographics change over time. Google® isn’t the only major brand that recently altered its logo. After seven years of maintaining the same logo, PayPal®, the online payment juggernaut, recently revealed their new logo and branding configuration designed to better instill a sense of trust in the consumer. Visa® rebuilt the “V” in their logo and deleted a word from their tagline in an attempt to create stronger brand identity and positioning. Reebok® just added a Delta symbol to its logo to help symbolize change and reach a broader fitness/cross-training market. Even ‘The Oscars’ gave their logo a facelift by moving the statue from the right of text to under the “A” as if it was poised under a spotlight. The design change was able to modernize the look of a very traditional institution.


The art of graphic design goes far beyond clipart and stock photography. Graphic design firms have the ability to turn images and text into compelling advertising or marketing collateral that can sell a very big idea. Great graphic design can help position and brand a business for securing a share of an industry’s marketplace.

Author: Craig Hayes
Publisher: Scribble Creative Group, LLC.
Section: Graphic Design
Date: 10/7/14